Changing The World, One Service Dog at a Time

Story by David Duran, Dog Parent Relationship Manager of Dogtopia of Tanque Verde & Oro Valley, Photos courtesy of Dogtopia
Dogtopia is not only just about providing the best daycare experience out there. Through the Dogtopia Foundation, Dogtopia locations across the country raise money through various treat days, events, and other fundraisers, with the goal of raising enough money to sponsor a service dog for someone in need.
The Dogtopia Foundation enables dogs to positively change our world through funding programs focused around three worthy causes: Service Dogs for Veterans, Youth Literacy Programs and Employment Initiatives for Adults with Autism. In the next year, the Dogtopia Foundation will introduce a national impact grant program that will be awarded on a regional basis to exemplary non-profit organizations committed to providing service dogs for veterans. The foundation plans to identify organizations who are creating greater awareness, engage in best practices and protocols and actively gather date for evidence-based research in pursuit of sustainable funding. They believe by partnering with these organizations on a regional basis the Foundation will make a broader impact by learning about and supporting the programs making a significant difference in their field.
This past September, during National Service Dog Month, Dogtopia daycare centers across the country celebrated a timely milestone for the Foundation by announcing that they have collectively raised money to sponsor more than 100 service dogs for veterans! Many of these dogs are currently in training now, learning the task-related skills they will need to be supportive, hard-working and loyal companions for our veterans who so bravely served our country. The Dogtopia Foundation partners with both large and small organizations across the country. Below are some of the organizations Dogtopia partners with to provide service dogs to veterans in need.

K9’s For Warriors
K9’s For Warriors is the nation’s largest veteran service organization focused on providing highly trained Service Dogs to Warriors. Their program is focused on mitigating the debilitating symptoms of service-connected traumas and validate their methods through tireless research. With a majority of their K9’s coming from rescued shelters or surrendered by their owners, the organization prides itself on saving these animals from abandonment or euthanasia and giving them purpose. Each pair who graduates from their program represents two lives saved – the Service Dog and the Warrior. Dogs who do not graduate from their program qualify for a “career change” and are adopted out to loving homes or they enter the K9FW Station Dog Program which assists in the placement of career-change dogs throughout Florida so they may help to address and mitigate the stress factors common to the work and environment of dispatch operators, first responders and police officers.

America’s VetDogs
The service dog programs of America’s VetDogs were created to provide enhanced mobility and renewed independence to U.S. veterans, active-duty service member and first responders with disabilities, allowing them to live with pride and self-resilience once again. VetDogs trains and places service dogs for those with physical disabilities; guide dogs for individuals who are blind or have low vision; service dogs to help mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder; and facility dogs as part of the rehabilitation profess in military an VA hospitals. Students come to their 10-acre campus in Smithtown, New York, for a two-week in-residence training program. Classes are kept small to ensure personalized attention for each student and their new dog.

Mutts with a Mission
In 2008, Brooke Corson founded Mutts with a Mission after witnessing the positive impact dogs provided to the troops returning from active service. During her time working at Fort Benning, she was inspired by the response her dog, Angus, evoked from the troops, it was clear that dogs held the power to heal. Thanks to Angus, Fort Benning served as the foundation of Mutts with a Mission. At the start of the organization, they solely focused their resources on serving veterans and wounded warriors, but in 2019 were motivated to expand their reach to include first responders and those who have experienced trauma in the line-of-duty.

For more information visit us at www.dogtopiafoundation.org and www.dogtopia.com.



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